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Poster: cosmicolada Date: Aug 26, 2009 7:00pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Short Feature Films

Just a thought...

Anyone else here particularly enjoy old, short features? Or has anyone else noticed just how short a lot of those old films run?

Over the years I've debated the merits with friends, that many older b-movies run shorter than the "a" movies of their time, and certainly a LOT shorter than the movies of today. Of course I think the reason why the films were shorter then was because theaters had double- and triple-features regularly. I know that was the case in the 50s and even the 60s in my early moviegoing days.

In the 30s and 40s, most b-films ran about an hour in length (give or take a few minutes), and as recently as the late 50s/early 60s, some genre b-films ripe for double-feature billing still clocked in at 60-65 minutes +/-.

My personal comment on this: I don't think more than an hour is an absolute necessity to tell most stories. A lot of movies today are just too long, IMHO. Give me the old, short b-features any day.

Just my two cents. :-)

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Poster: guyzilla Date: Aug 26, 2009 11:03pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Short Feature Films

Some of these old flicks do seem to benefit from brevity. Take "Dead Men Walk" for example. Entertaining as it is, it would seem dull if it ran for ninety minutes or more. Much better at the current running time. Same holds true for those B-western "quickies", great the way they are.

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Poster: cosmicolada Date: Aug 27, 2009 12:04pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Short Feature Films

I also get a kick out of those 40s PRC and Monogram horror films, and have seen them on TV ever since I can remember. Short and sweet!

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Poster: guyzilla Date: Aug 27, 2009 1:20pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Short Feature Films

Sometimes PRC has been nicknamed "Poverty Row Company" but all the ones I've seen have had pretty good pruduction values. Same goes for Monogram and others.

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Poster: cosmicolada Date: Aug 27, 2009 2:45pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Short Feature Films

PRC has also been called "Pretty Rotten Crap," but I like their films, too. Moreso than Monogram, in fact.

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Poster: jonc Date: Aug 27, 2009 1:59pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Short Feature Films

I think the screenplays of some of those "B" movies were written or selected just for that purpose. The triple features were replaced by television, though. People no longer spent their full day at the theater.

"My personal comment on this: I don't think more than an hour is an absolute necessity to tell most stories. A lot of movies today are just too long, IMHO. Give me the old, short b-features any day."

You wouldn't want to see Citizen Kane crammed into a 60-minute synopsis, would you? Or Chinatown? Schindler's List? Can you imagine how much splicing that would take?

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Poster: cosmicolada Date: Aug 27, 2009 2:46pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Short Feature Films

I'll get out the splicing block, ASAP! ;-)

About 30 years ago (in the early days of commercial home video) a friend and I experimented with tightening a few feature films using two VCRs, and we ended up with movies going from 2+ hours down to 60-75 minutes. I know other filmmakers who purposely pad their films to lengthen the running time, as if a longer run time means a film is somehow better or more important.

One of the best films on the whole IA in my opinion is "Silent Snow, Secret Snow," which runs 17 minutes.

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Poster: jonc Date: Aug 27, 2009 4:36pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Short Feature Films

I suppose most films have periods that seem kind of dull or insignificant, but these scenes give contrast to the more intense action or drama scenes, and magnify their effect. Hangover, on the other hand, tries to be funny throughout, and the joke just starts to get stale.

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Poster: cosmicolada Date: Aug 27, 2009 7:22pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Short Feature Films

I think it just comes down to personal preference. I've always favored a film that tells its story with swift economy, hits the main points, wraps it up, and gets out. Not a requirement for me, but it sure helps a lot. I was just curious if anyone felt the way I do or has a similar preference for these shorter feature films.

Edit: A perfect example of a short feature that is among my top few favorite films is Roger Corman's 1957 Not Of This Earth, which runs only 64 minutes in the theatrical cut. (It was padded to 67 minutes for TV syndication later on.) Most Corman fans (Cormanites?) usually mention this film as one of his best. Also, the original versions of Bucket of Blood and Little Shop of Horrors (among his most popular) were in the 65-minute range as well.



This post was modified by cosmicolada on 2009-08-28 02:22:28

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Poster: jonc Date: Aug 27, 2009 2:06pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Short Feature Films

I did watch Hangover recently, and that could have been cut considerably. It's only 90 minutes, but it drags on the same joke throughout. I found myself getting bored after an hour.

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Poster: cosmicolada Date: Aug 27, 2009 3:02pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Short Feature Films

Today's filmmakers could learn some valuable lessons (about pacing, if nothing else) from old b-movies.